Unless you’re a Blue Jays fan, a moderately serious fantasy player or are some sick obsessive who reads every single box score every day [cough, cough], Randy Ruiz probably hasn’t even crossed your radar screen. Sure, the Jays’ part-time DH and backup first baseman came on really strong late last year, but he hasn’t hit for anything in 2010 and at 32 isn’t anyone’s idea of a prospect. Not surprising at all, then, that he was released today.
More surprising is the fact that, on the very same day, he signed a contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. What timing that the Golden Eagles’ scout was there to thrust that contract in Ruiz’s hands mere minutes after the Jays gave him his walking papers!
Unless it really wasn’t fortuitous timing. Unless, like Toronto Star reporter Morgan Campbell, you believe that this was all done beforehand, with Ruiz making his deal with Tohoku Rakuten earlier this month when he missed a couple of games against the Indians for “personal reasons.” Campbell believes that Ruiz was talking to the Japanese team then, most likely with the Jays’ blessing.
If that’s the case, good for the Jays for making it easier for Ruiz to land on his feet. It’s obvious that he doesn’t have much of a role with this team, so doing what they can for him — if that’s what happened — was right sporting of them.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.